Resolution: Moving More

The problem is that people looking to get healthy predominantly approach it from just one angle. They either focus exclusively on exercise or exclusively on dieting. Though intense devotion to one of the two might bring some improvements, it rarely produces the full results that people desire. And when attempts at life change don't work, you give up. Again, the focus must be on both burning calories and calorie intake. It's no more complicated than exercising and eating healthy. First, we discuss the exercise. For me, it started with running.

I was a college athlete (not a great one, mind you), so during my early adulthood I was always exercising. After college up until Kaelyn was born, I would play team sports two to three times a week. When I hit my thirties, I knew I wasn't doing as well as I should. I didn't have the time to play sports as often. Seeking more individualized exercise options, I tried lifting weights. It just didn't work for me. All that really was left was running.

My decision to try it was born out of pride; our home is on the Flying Pig Half Marathon route and I knew I could do what they were doing (but only better). I trained for the half marathon and had a decent performance. And then pride kicked in again: after running the half, I decided to run the full Flying Pig marathon the next year. A marathon demands discipline, much more than twice the training required for a half-marathon. It wasn't easy: I started training in January, it was miserable running in cold weather, I logged a lot of treadmill miles, I had to devote a couple hours on weekends for long runs. In the end, I did it, and it was incredibly satisfying. After my marathon, I thought I'd be done with running altogether.

Now here's the secret: I didn't really like running. It took me three marathons before I finally learned to love running. Now, I run two marathons a year—a spring and fall one—and I do it because I know I need the discipline. I logged my tenth one this past fall. I'm not sure if this will eventually lead to other events like ultramarathons or Ironman races. I simply don't have the time to train for those kind of races. But long distance running is key to my consistent exercise.

I need the routine.

Distance running can't be faked. It demands training over months to do it properly. You train not to make the distance, but to recover and keep from hurting yourself after your marathon. I know that if I don't run in January, I won't have a good race in May. It also gives me a goal that I can't avoid. When I sign up months before, I'm putting money down on the event; it's basically like I'm betting against myself that I'll run it.

Long distance racing might not be for you. Whatever you can do, consistent exercise is key. Embrace activities that allow you to burn calories. Start slow, stay with it, and see it as a lifestyle change.

But that's still just one part of the equation.